The past few days have witnessed an online phenomenon that brings out the best in social media. Countless women from every walk of life have posted two simple words on their timelines: “Me, too.”
To this we hasten to add our own statement: Us, too.
Women are posting messages on social media to show how commonplace sexual assault and harassment are, using the hashtag #MeToo to express that they, too, have been victims of such misconduct.
These women are saying publicly what for years has been reserved for quiet talks among friends. They add up to a frightening reality: Sexual harassment is a near-universal experience for women in American workplaces.
No, that does not mean every woman in every job is held to a set of rules that don’t apply to men. It doesn’t mean that every workplace has a male boss willing to use his power to humiliate, harass or harm women. Of course not.
But women are saying clearly that these kinds of things happen so often that accepting, combating or somehow navigating around such conduct has become a necessary part of workplace survival for nearly all women.
That should stop, and stop now. The Harvey Weinstein saga has been disgusting. We hope it can become a catalyst, too. Women are changing already. Simply declaring “Me, too” helps eats away at the silence on which such predatory behavior always depends.
It is a moment of action for men, as well. The #MeToo meme is stripping the blinders away so that all men should be fully aware that the women they love and respect have likely had to endure some level of harassment or abuse — from unequal treatment or pay or all the way up to criminal assault.
With that knowledge must now come a conversion to full-on ally.
We add our voice here, too, because this is a phenomenon that affects all women. Let’s recognize the extent that these experiences have on women’s lives — in the work setting, in personal relationships and beyond.
By saying “Me, too,” women are inviting their male colleagues to say with them: Not anymore.